Event coordinators looking to create printed materials, paid advertising, social media campaigns and other marketing activities for local events are eligible to apply for grant funding from Visit Durango, the area tourism office, through 2023.
The city of Durango’s lodgers tax fund provided $180,000 to be distributed through event marketing grants this year, an increase from $120,000 in 2022, the first year the grants were made available through collaboration between the city and the tourism office, Rachel Welsh, Visit Durango spokeswoman, wrote in an email.
The grant program was well-received last year, she said. Visit Durango’s events task force awarded 40 grants ranging roughly from $500 to $5,000 and many recipients also took advantage of the tourism office’s free marketing consultation services with James Flint, Visit Durango events coordinator.
Events that received event marketing grants in 2022 include, among others, the Animas Valley Balloon Ralley, the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Four Corners Motorcycle Rally, Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and the Women's Resource Center's 3rd Annual Men In Heels.
This year, the only restriction on grant sizes is the budget of $180,000, she said.
Welsh recommended that prospective applicants apply for funding at least 45 days before their planned events, but the sooner one applies, the better.
“Events always tend to perform better when marketing efforts begin several months before the event, so you will want to have access to grant funds for those efforts,” she said.
Events are more likely to be greenlit for grant funding if they are scheduled for the nonpeak season, if they promote diversity, equity and inclusion, and if they contribute to sustainability with a low environmental impact, she said. Multigenerational family-friendly events, events with an educational bent and events impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, among others, also have increased chances of being approved for funding.
Welsh said applications will be reviewed during monthly meetings of the Events Task Force, a group of six voting members, including city of Durango representatives, the Visit Durango Board of Directors, community members, and nonvoting Visit Durango staff.
The applications are available on Visit Durango’s website at https://bit.ly/3H26iLg
In a testimonial provided by the tourism office, Hayley Kirkman, marketing manager and co-founder of the Animas City Night Bazaar, said the event marketing grant the nonprofit received last year helped it source services from a local graphic designer, photographer and marketing manager. In turn, more attention was drawn to the bazaar’s monthly events.
“The application process was very straightforward and we were able to converse with the Visit Durango team about ways to make our event marketing even stronger,” she says in the testimonial.